“When I am a Mom. . .” I had these thoughts frequently before actually becoming a parent. Frank and I planned for the wee ones’ arrival and had all sorts of conversations about what kind of parents we were going to be. I planned birthday parties in my head, holiday celebrations, and soon to be newly formed family traditions. Once the girls arrived, everything seemed to fall into place. We balanced the blending of three cultures-French, Chinese, and American with a schedule discussed in advance. We hosted a fantastic Thanksgiving with a homemade turkey and twelve other expats. We had a Christmas with a family card done not only in advance, but actually mailed out. We celebrated Easter-with American and French traditions upheld, Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s day, Chinese New Year, Dr. Seuss Day, Halloween, National Adoption Month, the girls’ birthdays, the list goes on and on. This year however, reality has slapped me in the face. XO’s party went off without a hitch, National Adoption Month was hardly a blip on the radar, Christmas barely was pulled off and poor Sagey’s birthday was only celebrated with us and the girls, while I’m still hoping to do something for Lantern Festival-perhaps next weekend. . .
Enter Valentine’s Day. Last year we made these awesome conversation heart cookies. They turned out fabulous-not only did they look good, but tasted amazing.The mess was kept to a minimum and each girl had exactly one cookie apiece-it was perfect. This year did not proceed as planned. I received an amazing note (written at 4:30 am as it is the only free time we seem to have) from the hubby which was the best present a girl could have received. Other than that, Valentine’s Day came and went with hardly a notice as all energies were focused on the girls (fyi, two two-year olds running around is a lot!). On Sunday, I decided we had to do something after all, “When I am a Mom .. . “ kept replaying through my mind. So, friends were invited and a quick run to the store for supplies was made. The cookies would not be as colorful as last year, and we didn’t have enough heart cookie cutters for all involved, but darn it all, we would have cookies. Everyone was set up around the table and then it happened. . .the kids wanted to make their own cookies with no assistance of any kind.
The batter wasn’t laid out at ¼ inch, the cookies weren’t cut all the way around-the colors were even mixed together, oh and two heart cookie cutters I did have. . .well, let’s just say they weren’t the favorite. So this year we had heart cookies, star cookies, snail cookies (which I all along thought were whale cookies), star of David cookies, letter cookies, and even a braided cookie. They were nothing like I had planned and yet, they were perfect.
As our friends were leaving, I was holding a plate of cookies. My daughter ran up and asked for one-I told her they were for her friends. The next thing I know, she’s at my feet with a rickety three legged stool. Upon reminding her that the cookies were not for her and besides, that stool with only three legs wasn’t the safest thing to climb on, she nodded yes and quickly ran off. A few seconds later, she returned with a much sturdier step stool and a hopeful gleam in her eyes. She was so happy with herself and her ingenuity, with her imperfect lop-sided cookies, her day with her friends. For her, Valentine’s Day -or two days later- was not only a day where she got to make her own cookies with her favorite people and discover the joys of finding the proper tool to help with a task, but it was a day that I will remember because it is the first day I’ve seen my girls in this light. It was the day that I stepped back and allowed my girls to take control and make the “holiday” be whatever it was for them.
Once they went to bed, I had one of their cookies. It tasted the same as the ones last year, but this year, I smiled and let go a little. This reminded me, “When I am a Mom I am going to allow my girls to take risks. When I am a Mom, I am going to encourage them to think for themselves. When I am a Mom I am going to allow them to be whoever it is they are. When I am a Mom I am going to let them be messy and at times, fall down. When I am a Mom, I will let my girls make whatever shape cookies they want and I’ll eat them with a smile and a full heart.”